Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton is wary "it could take a long time" to catch Red Bull as its dominant 2023 Formula 1 car will "likely continue to evolve"
After persisting with its troubled 2022 concept, Mercedes found out even before the season started that it had likely made the wrong decision and instead devoted its development resources towards a changed floor and sidepod concept, which is being readied for next month's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola.
It remains committed to that course change, even if Hamilton and George Russell performed a lot stronger in Melbourne's Australian Grand Prix. They qualified third and second respectively, with Russell within three tenths of Red Bull's polesitter Max Verstappen, and Russell briefly led the race while Hamilton took second at the finish.
Hamilton cautioned that while Red Bull could plateau with its RB19, it will likely continue finding pace as well. And it therefore might take a longer time to catch than hoped.
"I'm aware that it could take a long time to catch a car. If you look at the Red Bull, is just going to continue to evolve most likely," Hamilton said.
"Although some cars do plateau in terms of performance, when you get to some point, it can't just keep going. But maybe it can.
"They've got a great team around them, so I'm sure they'll continue to add downforce.
"We've got to make sure when we do make the change, hopefully the job isn't too far and it's going to take us the rest of the year for sure to potentially close that gap."
When asked what he's expecting from Mercedes' new-look W14, he hopes the tweaked design will deliver an immediate step that will be easier to develop from.
"There's a part of me that's just hopeful that we find the trick and we're straight onto the right track that's not far away from the others," he added.
"We've shown in the past that we can develop quickly, and I hope that that's the case as the potential of the car opens up.
"The guys can go full steam ahead in that direction. I'm grateful that they are open to making a shift and not being stuck with what we have."
Additional reporting by Adam Cooper